Should I monitor my blood pressure at home?

Should I monitor my blood pressure at home or just leave it to the doctor in the clinic? How do I go about monitoring my own blood pressure?

It is common knowledge that the management of hypertension (defined as persistently raised blood pressure >140/90mmHg) starts most importantly with lifestyle modification (eg salt restriction and exercise) and in some patients, the use of blood pressure (BP) lowering medications. Monitoring of BP is commonly limited to visits to the doctor or opportunistically during health screening events.

Do you know that out-of-clinic BP monitoring is extremely crucial and is the secret to a life free of hypertension-related complications (eg heart failure, heart attack, stroke, kidney failure and blindness)?

Here are some benefits of regular out-of-clinic BP monitoring:

  1. You can see if your blood pressure is higher in the clinic than it is at home (white-coat hypertension effect), thus avoiding the danger of your doctor increasing your BP-lowering medications unnecessarily.
  2. It gives you a picture of what your blood pressure is like as you go about your daily life.
  3. You can see how well your lifestyle changes and medications are working for you.
  4. It helps your doctor adjust your medications to achieve your target BP with much less side effects.

There are a few pertinent things to note when doing regular out-of-clinic BP monitoring. Following these few simple instructions will ensure that you present your doctor with your true BP readings so that he can optimize your BP control with minimal side effects.

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